By taking off my shoes and digging my toes in the sand I made contact with the larger world - an exhilarating feeling that leads to equanimity. Certainly I was still by myself, so to speak - there were no other people around and there still are none - but in the midst of such a grand tableau it was impossible to give full and serious consideration to Albuquerque. All that is human melted with the sky and faded out beyond the mountains and I felt, as I feel - is it a paradox? - that a man can never find or need better companionship than that of himself. Edward Abbey
Morning,It was another mild day yesterday. The high was 40. It was very sunny for the majority of the day. The low was 25.
It was 26 and hazy at observation. It looks like we'll have a clear night for New Years' stargazing. I am hoping to make it at least to hiker midnight - 9pm!I spent the majority of yesterday inside to recover from my 2 big days. It was a very leisurely day. I finished a book, took a nap and talked to a few dayhikers. Special thanks to those who packed me in some oranges, apples, bananas,
peppers and a NY Times! It is greatly appreciated. There are few greater pleasures than being comfortably tired after a big hike and curling up with a newspaper.Be careful on the slopes today. There was quite a bit of ice on my hike last night. As I've mentioned before, Kahtoola Microspikes are the most effective means of walking along the ice. You can find them at the NOC
just outside the park. They are worth every penny, as having confidence in your traction is a great relief in these tricky conditions. It's so nice to be able to take in the views without worrying about every foothold.
The last tracks I saw until the AT.
Even a little snow at the Slide can be precarious.
Getting back on the AT has the same familial warmth as seeing an old friend.
This girl is in the process of wailing her sister with that snowball. Direct hit! I've missed people watching.
Morning,It was a beautiful day yesterday. The high was 35 degrees. The low was 24 degrees. It was 34 and clear at observation. Today looks like it'll be another stunning day to be in the mountains.
Be wary of black ice - there will surely be some on Alum.I had some beautiful hiking over the last two days. I left the lodge at around 11:30 on Thursday. I would've caught an earlier start, but my friend Ryan was racing cyclocross in Belgium and I was fortunate enough to find the live feed. Watching bike races always gives me a beautiful shiver up my spine in remembrance of the pain of past races. It's a great boost of energy and helps to put things in perspective. Hiking is literally a walk in the park after watching those men suffer with their pride at stake.I hiked out Boulevard. Even with 'only' 5 inches of snow, the
drifts were pretty nasty. There were a few sections with snow that came over my gaiters. It was awesome fun. Breaking trail for the first time all winter is what I'd imagined this job would be like. Better late than never!I made it to
Newfound Gap around 2:30 and realized I wouldn't be able to make the Dome. I'll have to save it for another trip. I managed to get to Mt. Collins shelter just at dark. There were still some nice colors in the clouds as I got ready to crawl into my sleeping bag. I was up early in the morning and hiked back out to the Gap. The sun was special coming up through the red pines. Special thanks to Neil, Greg, Mark and Doug for helping me get myself and all my gear back from the mountain to the office to the trailhead yesterday. I started back up Alum at 6. It was a perfect night for a hike. It was clear and cool. The stars felt like a pop up book. It was a great experience that is beyond my limited attempts with words or a camera to convey.
You'll have to take my word for it.
Please remember that we are CLOSED for the season. If you are running out of daylight, turn around before you reach the top. One of the great virtues of mountain trekking is self-reliance. You only learn it by being prepared, knowing your limits and taking in stride the challenges that Mother Nature provides. If you expect others to bail you out, you're not just being a fool - but you're also missing out on the beautiful lessons that the mountains can teach you. Take responsibility for your actions.
Sun setting on the way to Mt. Collins.
Last bit of sun hitting the tree tops.
Sunrise over Mt. Collins shelter.
View of LeConte from Mt. Collins ridgeline.
Sun peeks through red pines.
they do not sweat and whine about their condition/ they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins/ Whitman
Winter is back! Yesterday morning was truly miserable. It was 33 and raining with high winds until about 10, then the temperature dropped enough for the precipitation to turn into SNOW! The high was 33. The low was 14 and it was 14 and clear at observation. There are about 4.5" up top. The trails are sure to be treacherous and icy, so be careful.
I stayed inside yesterday morning to avoid the hypothermia conditions. Once it turned to snow, I hiked down Alum Cave and met a few friends who will be watching the mountain for me for a few days. I hiked back up with them and we settled in for the evening. I'll be on a short backpacking trip for the next two nights, so the blog won't be updated until the afternoon of the 30th. Safe hiking!
Top photo: Greg navigates the snowy evergreens on the Alum Cave trail. Above: View from the back porch this morning.
I would always have a man to be doing, and, as much as in him lies, to extend and spin out the offices of life; and then let death take me planting my cabbages, indifferent to him, and still less of my gardens not being finished. Michel de Montaigne
We had another bizarrely warm day yesterday. The high crept up to 52. The overnight low was 23. It was 33 and raining at observation. Be very wary of hiking today. The rain is supposed to last all day and the still frozen ground is a recipe for black ice.
I hiked down Alum yesterday with a few friends. We finished atop High Point and it felt great getting out in such accommodating December weather. I spent the remainder of the day relaxing and taking care of a few chores in anticipation of the nasty weather today. Thanks to everyone who hiked me up oranges, apples, and chocolate turtles!
Top photo: Early morning colors. Above: Climbing High Top.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
We had another mild day yesterday. It is starting to feel like winter in the morning again. The high was 35. It was 27 and clear at observation. The overnight low was 17.
I went for a run down Alum yesterday and saw about 15 day hikers. Unfortunately, the beauty of my run was overshadowed by disgust. I picked up 5 water bottles along they way. As one of the day hikers commented, some people just don't deserve beauty. Thanks to everyone who isn't a lazy slob and can respect their surroundings. PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT.
new ears for new music.
It was another great day yesterday. The high was 39. The overnight low was 22. It was 32 and clear at observation. There may still be some black ice on the trails. I've had success in the past few days just taking my time on the icy sections. You may want to consider taking an ice traction device in addition to your normal layers, food & water, first aid kit, maps, etc. Also, don't forget the 11th essential - a Sunday New York Times and egg nog for your trusty caretaker!
I spent yesterday reading under one of the pine trees in front of the lodge. It was a wonderful day to hear the birds flit about. In between paragraphs, the red squirrels were begging me for food then proceeding to come up to me, 'boom' a bit, then scurry back up a tree and continue to express their displeasure. They weren't happy, despite the good grace of a mild winter.
It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more. Seneca
It was a beautiful day yesterday. The high was 35. It felt much warmer with the plentiful sunshine. The low was 25. It was 25 and clear at observation. Now that the temperatures are consistently freezing overnight, be wary of the black ice. The rocks may look like they are just wet, but they are glazed with a cunning foe that would like nothing more than to watch you topple.
I had a very nice hike down Alum yesterday morning. It was clear up top and I hiked down into the clouds. It was misty at the Caves. I sat their for half an hour and relaxed. As I hiked back up, the clearing clouds' mist was nearly forming a rainbow. It was playing beautiful games with the sun. I felt like John Muir in the Sierras.
I spent the afternoon taking care of chores. I also got out to sunset at Cliff Tops. I'm pretty sure I have enough pictures to fuel the blog until March. It was stunning.
Top photo: Sun breaking through the clouds on Alum Cave. Above: Islands in the sea of clouds.
Sunset near Cliff Tops.
Love flowers best in openness and freedom. Edward Abbey
Morning,It was a grey day yesterday. The rain held off until evening for the most part. The high was 48. The low was 28 and it was 28 & drizzling at observation. There was 1.1" of rain. There's some tricky black ice up top, so consider packing an ice traction device.
I spent yesterday taking care of a few projects around camp. I saw quite a few dayhikers for such a nasty day. Please remember to pack raingear, headlamps or flashlights (in case the climb takes longer than you're expecting), plenty of layers, food and water. I carry these items
on every day hike. It seems silly to leave for a short hike on a beautiful day with all this gear, but the weather changes awfully quick up here. Be prepared.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for. Epicurus
Morning,It was a mild, rainy day yesterday. The high was 47. It rained consistently from about 10-noon, then on and off for the remainder of the day. There was .74" of rain. The low was 38. It was 44 and clear at observation. It sounds like there's a good chance for PM showers, so be prepared.I had a nice hike in the rain down Alum. My trusty umbrella kept me dry for the trip. I got some lunch in town (Thanks for the early Christmas gift, Chris & Allyson!) and then hiked back up Rainbow Falls. The rain just about quit, which made for a warm hike up. I can't believe that I was able to hike up the tallest peak east of the Mississippi in shorts and a t-shirt. A day before winter solstice, no less! It is officially unusually warm.
I'll be indoors reading, finishing some projects and taking a well-earned zero day.
The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says,--he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was another mild day yesterday. The high was 42. The low was 37. It was 42 and drizzling at observation. There was .17" of rain yesterday, most coming in the evening.
It looks like there will be thunderstorms today, so be cautious on the upper slopes. I've heard reports that the ice at elevations higher than Alum Cave is particularly treacherous. It's also getting dark around 5:30 up here, so if you're not at the summit by 3 please turn back. Be sure to pack rain gear, layers, ice traction and a headlamp.
I went for a run yesterday, then spent the rest of the day reading. I'm really hoping this projected spell of grey days breaks and we get some snow.